BY JEFFREY T. HARRIS, M.D.
Stroke or cerebrovascular accidentm, as it is sometimes called, is one of the most devastating neurologic diseases. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. An individual who has a stroke loses thousands of dollars in revenue per year. It costs the healthcare system thousands of dollars to care for each individual stroke patient. For each family of a stroke patient, the loss of revenue is even more staggering. Each year, several billion dollars in revenue is lost due to the fact that families have to change their lifestyles in order to care for a stroke survivor.
Almost one million strokes occur every year. Seventy-five percent of the strokes are of the ischemic or nonbleeding type. The remaining strokes are hemorrhagic or of the bleeding type. Approximately thirty percent of people who have a stroke will die either of that stroke or of a subsequent stroke within the next year. The majority of people who die of stroke will have a hemorrhagic stroke.
What Is a Stroke?
In simplest terms, a stroke is defined as a lack of oxygen to an area of the brain. Whatever that area of the brain controls will stop functioning. If it controls movement, for example, a person will lose the ability to move that part of the body. This lack of oxygen can occur in one of three ways. The first way is when a blood clot forms within an artery of the brain. The second way is a blood clot that forms some where else in the body, breaks off and go to the brain. The third way is a rupture of a blood vessel inside the brain causing the hemorrhage or bleeding episode.
Who Can Have a Stroke?
Strokes can occur at any age. We have seen people have strokes as young as three and four years of age and as old as one hundred years of age. It is most common from ages sixty to one hundred. The older we get, the greater the risk becomes.
Strokes are more common in African-Americans than any other race in this country. There are several reasons for this. The most important reason is the higher incidence of risk factors that cause stroke in African-Americans. These risk factors will be discussed shortly. Strokes are more common in men than women.
How Do You Get a Stroke?
There are several risk factors for stroke. These risk factors are diseases which predispose patients to have a stroke. The most important risk factor is hypertension or high blood pressure. The other risk factors are: diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and smoking.
What Are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
Strokes are characterized by the sudden onset of neurological deficit. The most common of these symptoms are sudden loss of strength on one side of the body. However, there are others. Among the other symptoms for stroke are the following: Loss of vision, loss of sensation on one side of the body, loss of speech, slurred speech, and dizziness.
What Happens in the Hospital to a Stroke Patient?
After a stroke patient arrives at the hospital, a series of diagnostic tests are initiated to determine why the patient had a stroke. After the completion of the tests, the patient is placed on appropriate medication to help minimize the risk having another stroke. The patient is then placed in the appropriate therapy program. The different programs are composed of inpatient therapy and home health care.
Do People Recover from a Stroke?
Recovery from a stroke is dependent upon the size of the stroke, the age of the patient, and the severity of the stroke. On average, the less severe the stroke and the younger the patient, the more likely one will recover from the stroke. However, recovery does not mean normalcy. Most patients will get better following a stroke. But not every patient will get back to one hundred percent normal. It may take up to a full year for a person to recover as best as possible from a stroke.
This web page contains some of the more important features regarding stroke and the management of this disease. For more information regarding stroke, the management of stroke, and the latest research being performed in this field, please see the two following web sites the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: www.ninds.nih.gov and the Henry Clark Stroke Foundation: www.hcstrokefoundation.org.
State of Michigan Solicitation License expires October 31, 2012.